Over­due surgery wait list triples

Doc­tors’ pay dis­pute adds to de­lays


AN in­dus­trial dis­pute be­tween doc­tors and the Gov­ern­ment will add fur­ther de­lays to South Aus­tralia’s bal­loon­ing elec­tive surgery wait­ing list.

Al­most three times more peo­ple are wait­ing for over­due elec­tive surg­eries than 12 months ago, with in­dus­trial ac­tion over stalled pay ne­go­ti­a­tions to cause fur­ther de­lays.

One thou­sand South Aus­tralians are wait­ing on over­due elec­tive pro­ce­dures, sub­stan­tially greater than the 393 over­due surg­eries this time last year.

Over­due pro­ce­dures have swelled by 826 in just the past two months. Health Min­is­ter Peter Malin­auskas said 186 de­lays had been caused by the move to the new Royal Ade­laide Hos­pi­tal.

SA Salaried Med­i­cal Of­fi­cers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Laura Willing­ton con­firmed doc­tors would hold a stop work meet­ing on Oc­to­ber 12, to protest the Gov­ern­ment’s most re­cent pay of­fer.

Dr Willing­ton said out­pa­tient clin­ics and elec­tive sur- gery would be can­celled that morn­ing, plac­ing fur­ther stress on the sys­tem.

Mr Malin­auskas told Par­lia­ment the in­crease in over­due elec­tive surg­eries had largely been caused by a huge in­crease in emer­gency depart­ment pre­sen­ta­tions.

“Of course, when we see in our sys­tem an ex­tra­or­di­nary spike in ED pre­sen­ta­tions and then the pa­tient flow through the hos­pi­tal sys­tem takes place on the back of that, there will need to be ad­just­ments to elec­tive surgery,” Mr Malin­auskas said.

As of Wed­nes­day, 79 cat­e­gory one pa­tients at the new RAH had been wait­ing more than the clin­i­cally rec­om­mended max­i­mum of 30 days, with 21 wait­ing be­tween 60 and 90 days.

One urol­ogy pa­tient has been wait­ing more than 90 days for their pro­ce­dure.

Op­po­si­tion health spokesman Stephen Wade said mov­ing into the new RAH at the height of flu sea­son had “cre­ated dan­ger­ous pres­sures” in an al­ready over­stretched hos­pi­tal net­work.

“The re­duced level of elec- tive surgery cases is lead­ing to a dra­matic blowout in pa­tient waits which can only in­crease the risk to pa­tients and un­der­mine health out­comes,” Mr Wade said.

“This mas­sive blowout in pa­tients wait­ing too long for surgery makes it crit­i­cal the Gov­ern­ment re­pairs its toxic re­la­tion­ship with pub­lic hos­pi­tal doc­tors.”

Dr Willing­ton will meet with Pre­mier Jay Weather­ill and Mr Malin­auskas on Tues­day to dis­cuss a new pay deal, after SASMOA mem­bers re­jected the Gov­ern­ment’s of­fer of a 1.5 per cent pay in­crease.

“The 1.5 per cent was not a real of­fer and was never go­ing to be ac­cepted by our mem­bers,” Dr Willing­ton said.

She said doc­tors nor­mally needed to take in­dus­trial ac­tion for pay talks to progress, and hoped the Oc­to­ber 12 stop work meet­ing would prompt Gov­ern­ment ac­tion.

A Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said it was “com­mit­ted to se­cur­ing out­comes that are ben­e­fi­cial to em­ploy­ees and the em­ployer”, but stressed the pro­vi­sion of vi­tal ser­vices was “paramount”.

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